Coping with Breast Cancer: Focusing on Wellness

Beth Brophy Health Guide
  • Sometimes, the best way to take care of yourself is to get away from your familiar surroundings and try something new. That was the idea behind my week-long stay at a Mexican wellness retreat in a forest preserve, which went very well, for the most part.

    Here’s a typical day: Wake up at 7:30 and throw on socks and sweatshirt for the 7:45 stretch class. The mornings and nights are cold, in the 40s, but the mid-day sun warms up the place by about 30 degrees or more. Then breakfast, followed by a hike or a treatment, such as a massage or facial or mud footbath. I skipped the mud wrap, and other treatments that involved wrapping my body, due to previous bad experiences with claustrophobia.
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    Yoga class at 12:15. Then lunch, followed by another treatment, or soaking in the two mineral pools, filled with hot water. Water aerobics class every day at 4:30. Then get cleaned up for dinner, followed by another soak in the mineral pools. The air gets cold at night, but the pools are as warm as hot tubs. Then back to my room for solitary reading and bed. All of the rooms have fireplaces, so I made a fire every night.

    The daily combination of those basic elements, the fire and the water, felt therapeutic.
    Although I was part of a group of eight women--my sister, and seven of her friends whom I had never met before--- I enjoyed spending large blocks of time alone. There was a total of about 50 people at the spa, and plenty of open space, so it never felt crowded.

    The vegetarian food, mostly raw, was really good. There was fresh papaya and yogurt at every meal. Dinner was pretty sparse, soup and salad, but I liked eating that way. It makes sense to eat the most at breakfast, then a medium lunch and a light dinner. There were some interesting herbal iced teas, and juices, including a spinach-pineapple, which was surprisingly good. I didn’t even miss meat or poultry or alcohol or chocolate. My only complaint was weak coffee.

    By chance, the 11th anniversary of my cancer diagnosis, took place during my week away. I was able to give some thought that day to being in a healthier place now, physically and psychologically. In fact, it was a great week to be away from the ice storms and freezing weather and bad roads and school closings.

    Too often, as wives and mothers and employees, we put ourselves last, and don’t make time to relax or appreciate our good health. You don’t need to have had the cancer experience to realize how we are all in need of some special healing time. I don’t know that I’ll be making a similar retreat every year, but I highly recommend that everyone try it, at least once. Let me know how it worked out for you.

Published On: February 21, 2007